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Majority MP3 Player review: one of the best cheap music players to consider
3:00 pm | May 12, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Portable Media Players | Tags: | Comments: Off

Majority MP3 Player: Two-minute review

The Majority MP3 Player shines for its simplicity in a world where MP3 players are trying hard to be your replacement smartphone, radio and Kindle all wrapped into one. 

The Majority MP3 Player is not trying to be the best MP3 player ever invented; it’s trying to be a simple music device for people who don’t have degrees in sound engineering. Created by British audio company Majority, this is basically the cheapest MP3 player on the market that you should seriously consider buying, found on Amazon by searching 'MP3 player' and sorting 'price: low to high'. And it wears that budget badge with pride.

The Majority MP3 is absolutely tiny, and very lightweight too, so it’s not going to drag a hole in your pocket like many of its rivals. Its plastic shell may seem ‘cheap’ to some, but it'll take drops and knocks better than delicate premium options, and contributes to its lovely lightness.

My favorite feature is the sports clip on the back, which firmly clasps the MP3 player to your clothes, bag or anything else. This was so handy for keeping the player held still while keeping it within arms’ reach (ie, not in a pocket), and also means you can take the player for a run or workout and clip it to your clothes, to exercise hands-free.

Design aside, there’s more to like here too: the player is simple to use (well, once you’ve got your head around some user interface quirks) and has a battery life that outstrips lots of the competition.

As you can imagine from the price, the Majority MP3 doesn’t exactly have all the trappings of its pricier rivals. You’re not getting a touchscreen, so you’ll have to rely on a fairly rudimentary button system to get around, and don’t expect to fiddle with an on-device EQ, watch videos or read audiobooks, or download any more than 128GB of music (or 16GB, without an SD card).

However if you’re simply buying a nice lightweight little gadget that lets you outsource your music listening to a non-smartphone device, sometimes you don’t need bells and whistles; you just need simplicity. And simplicity is something the Majority MP3 delivers in spades.

The Majority MP3 Player in a man's hands.

(Image credit: Future)

Majority MP3 Player review: price and release date

  • Costs $35 / £30 (about AU$60)
  • Available since March 2023 (according to Amazon)

As stated in the introduction, the Majority MP3 is one of the cheapest MP3 players on the market at the time of writing. How cheap? Uh – that’s a good question.

At the time of writing, Majority has two separate listings for the device on Amazon UK: £29.95 and £34.95, and I can’t for the life of me tell what the difference between the two is. I’d hazard a guess that there isn’t one. The expert tech minds at TechRadar have come to the conclusion that you should buy the cheaper one.

What about outside the UK? It's available on Amazon US for $35, in mercifully just one entry. There's no Australian availability, but these prices would translate to around AU$60.

The Majority MP3 Player on a wooden bench.

(Image credit: Future)

Majority MP3 Player review: Features

  • 16GB memory, expandable to 128GB
  • Limited list of extra tools
  • 34-hour battery life, lower if using Bluetooth

You can fit up to 16GB of music onto the Majority MP3 player, which the company estimates will take 4,000 songs to fill. If you buy a compatible SD card you can expand that by 128GB which will fit countless hours of music in MP3 format. The only file format officially supported is MP3 – no AAC or WAV support is listed here.

Despite being a simple device, the Majority does have a few extra tools that may come in handy. You can record audio notes, change your background, use a stopwatch or check a calendar (though I couldn’t find a way to add anything to it) and create folders and playlists on the device.

Some features that many other MP3 players have are missing here. You can’t streaming over Wi-Fi, sync with audiobooks services, watch videos, or tune into the radio, so you'll have to rely on whatever MP3 files you manually download. There’s also no way to customize your listening experience, beyond picking your chosen headphones carefully.

There's a 3.5mm jack for wired listening, or you can ditch cables and set up a Bluetooth connection, which lets you stream the MP3 files through some of the best wireless earbuds or one of the best Bluetooth speakers – though it’ll harm your battery life of course.

That battery life is 34 hours by default if you’re using wired audio, which is a fair bit longer than some competitors (many of our favorite MP3 players last between 15 and 20 hours). Charging takes three hours, done with an in-box USB-C cable.

  • Features score: 2.5/5

The Majority MP3 Player on a wooden bench.

(Image credit: Future)

The Majority MP3 Player in a man's hands.

(Image credit: Future)

Majority MP3 Player review: Sound quality

  • Quality depends on audio files and headphones
  • No extra features to improve quality

The Majority MP3 Player isn't one to buy if you're looking for a device that ekes all the sound quality it can out of your tunes.

Unlike some pricier rivals, the device doesn't come with an on-board equalizer and doesn't support higher-quality music file types, so this isn't a portable music player for audiophiles – MP3 only here. You could probably tell that from the price.

Music played on the device will depend a lot more on the files you upload and the headphones you use than the pedigree of the Majority, then.

For what it's worth, I tested with a range of music files and they sounded effectively as good on the Majority MP3 as on pricier audio players, my computer and my smartphone. 

The bass and treble were bright and distinct, though the mid-range was a little lost compared to on some rival devices. The sound quality will best suit runners, but won't impress people who care about high-quality music.

  • Sound quality score: 2.5/5

Majority MP3 Player review: design

  • Tiny and light plastic body
  • Small touchscreen and buttons for controls
  • Plastic 'sports clip' holds 

The Majority MP3 Player is a small plastic rectangle, with a teensie screen and control panel on the front.

The player is absolutely tiny; it’s the smallest of its ilk that I’ve tested by a fair amount. It measures 4.4 x 6.8 x 1.9cm / 1.7 x 2.7 x 0.8 inches (ignore Majority’s website or Amazon, which both offer the dimensions of the shipping box as that of the device itself!). To give you a sense of that size, you’d need to put three and a half in a row to cover up a dollar bill.

It weighs only 33g too, so it’s slight enough that you can pop it in a pocket or on your clothes and forget it’s there. This lightweight form is partly thanks to the small size but likely mainly thanks to the fact it’s plastic, a material that’s often associated with ‘cheap’ tech but is also very hardy. I dropped the MP3 player a fair few times and there’s not a scratch or mark upon it.

A distinctive design feature is the use of a ‘sports clip’ on the back of the body, which you can use to clip it onto anything you want. As per the name, I used it a lot when going for a run so I could go hands-free, and it stayed attached despite all the associated jostling and bouncing. When not running, I also liked to attach the player to my clothes instead of drop it in a pocket, which made for easy access when I wanted to change the tune or turn it off.

Around the edges of the device you’ve got a USB-C port for charging and plugging into a computer, a 3.5mm audio jack (headphones are included in the box but you can use your own), an SD card slot that supports up to 128GB expandable memory, a volume rocker and a ‘hold’ button which deactivates any of the other controls so you don’t accidentally press them. On the front of the Majority is the screen and five buttons: the main selection one, ‘M’ (for ‘music’), previous track, next track and back. These are all you’ll have when navigating the menus.

That screen is 4.8cm across with a resolution of 240 x 240, and it’s bright enough that you can see it in direct sunlight. With those specs, it’s fit for purpose but won’t wow you with its fidelity, so I’m not exactly heartbroken that you can’t watch videos on the device. When you’re listening to music, a clock sometimes appears to tell you the time, but I could never figure out the rhyme or reason for it showing up or the Majority simply defaulting to a black screen; it felt pretty random.

  • Design score: 4/5

The Majority MP3 Player clipped to a blue hoodie.

(Image credit: Future)

Majority MP3 Player review: usability and set-up

  • Plugs into PC using USB-C cable
  • Navigate with physical buttons
  • User interface can be a little confusing

Downloading music onto the Majority MP3 Player is incredibly easy. You don’t need to fuss over different folders or settings; plug the player into your computer, select ‘Transfer’ on the player, and simply drag any of your music you want into the player’s folder. No, you don’t need to put it in a certain place on the folder or upload it in a certain way; throw it all in there and it’ll sort itself out. Easy!

Finding the music on the device itself may be a little trickier. You can use the forward and backward buttons to scroll forward and backward in the list, and the central one to select an option. 

Back, as you imagine, takes you back, but only one menu, so if you want to return to the player’s main menu then you’ll just have to smash the back button loads of times. And want to pause or switch tracks while you’re listening to music? You’ll have to navigate all the way back to the main menu, and then forward into the music options to find ‘Now Playing’, as there’s no simple way to jump to the music player.

I got used to the navigation after a while, but it did take a little learning. Another gripe I had is that the player takes a few seconds longer to turn on or off than I’d have liked (both are performed by pressing and holding the central button). That’s also true of turning on and off the controls hold option; you have to wait a few seconds for an animation to play out, so changing volume or skipping tracks isn’t as quick as you’d hope.

  • Usability & setup score: 3.5/5

The Majority MP3 Player on a wooden bench.

(Image credit: Future)

Majority MP3 Player review: value

  • MP3 player right at the lowest of the low end of the market
  • Does what it promises, and only a little more
  • Faults are easily forgiven at this price

If you’re looking for value for your money, you can’t find a better device than the Majority MP3 Player, and that’s simply because it’s so cheap.

You can spend literally thousands on an MP3 player if you want top-end features and audio, but Majority has gone for the opposite side of the spectrum, and you know what? You still get the same core function of playing MP3 files. 

Being unable to play hi-res music or watch videos really won't be an issue for anyone looking for something this cheap, and the storage is sufficient for its purpose. I really can't fault it for its value.

  • Value score: 5/5

The Majority MP3 Player on a wooden bench.

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Majority MP3 Player?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Majority MP3 Player review: Also consider

Majority MP3 Player review: how I tested

  • Two-week testing period
  • Pop, rock, classical and spoken word music tested
  • Used at home, in office, on walks and on runs

I tested the Majority MP3 Player using its provided headphones (though obviously you can upgrade to some of the best wired headphones for an improvement), and I paired it using Bluetooth to the Earfun Wave Pro and the OneOdio OpenRock S headphones to see how it measured up.

Musically, I loaded it up with a testing playlist of rock, pop and post-rock, and also used it to stream lots of running music and classical. As you can tell I used it on runs as well as when at home, in the office and on walks.

The testing period for the Majority MP3 Player was roughly two weeks, and I was able to compare it directly with two other similar devices: the Mechen 64GB and HIFI Walker.

Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro mini PC review
9:57 am | May 7, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro: 30-second review

Specs

CPU: Intel Core i9-12900H
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: Up to 64GB Dual-channel DDR4-3200MHz
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 SSD and up to 1TB M.2 2242 SSD SATA
Rear Ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 2x USB 4 Gen 3 Type-C (supports Power Delivery), 1x RJ45, 1x DC in
Front Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1x 3.5mm front stereo headset jack
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Audio: 3.5mm front stereo headset jack
Camera: N/A
Size: 117 x 111 x 38.5 mm
OS Installed: Windows 11 Pro
Accessories: VESA mount included

Geekom is one of the big players in the mini PC field, and the XT12 highlights exactly why. Firstly, the small machine features an understated design with a high-quality metal surround topped with a matte white plate. It's all incredibly small and neat and will suit any stylish office or home.

However, the internals are less discreet. They boast a powerful Intel Core 12th Gen Alder Lake i9-12900H CPU. Our review sample packs in 32GB of RAM and a 1TB ultra-fast SSD, with the option to boost this to a maximum of 64GB of RAM and 2TB of ultra-fast M.2 SSD storage. That's not all; there's also the option to install an additional M.2 2242 SSD SATA up to 1TB, which can be further complemented by external network or USB 4 storage options.

Out of the box, this compact machine can handle office software, multimedia, and creative apps without breaking a sweat, but where this small machine differs from some of the best mini PCs we've tested is the inclusion of USB 4 ports. This lets you expand on storage capacity as well as giving you the ability to link into a powerful eGPU. This means that if you are fully accessorized, you'll essentially have a very compact and powerful machine that is a fraction of the size of most desktop machines. However, that optional eGPU will challenge desktop space.

eGPU and expansion options aside, the base unit's overall performance is superb, even over extended periods of use when editing standard 4K video from the Sony A7 IV. The cooling system kicks in to keep things ticking over and running smoothly.

While as a standard mini PC, this machine is impressive, enabling Office, creative use, and moderate gaming, it's when it's plugged into an eGPU that you can really unlock its potential and extend its use.

As it stands, the XT12 Pro is without accessories and packs a great deal of power for its size and will suffice for all office applications, photo editing, and even running some of the best video editing software. If video editing gets more advanced, then the addition of an eGPU along with the ability to upgrade the RAM, main SSD, and a small additional 1TB M.2 2242 SSD SATA slot along with USB 4 expanded storage means that this Mini PC has serious potential and options for expansion.

Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro: Price & availability

GEEKOM XT Series XT12 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Geekom ST Series XT12 Pro is widely available in the standard configuration, which consists of a Mini PC with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB HD. The machine is available for $699 directly from the Geekom website, most electronics stores, and Amazon.com.

  • Score: 4/5

Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro: Design & build

GEEKOM XT Series XT12 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Despite the small size, you can instantly tell that the Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro sits in the mid to premium range of Mini PCs. Firstly, the look of the machine is understated, with a metal surround featuring honeycomb cut-outs to enable plenty of air to flow through the system. Then, the plastic top is finished in a high-quality matte white but moulded into the ergonomic design of the casing.

That casing, with the venting and high-quality detail, all helps to ensure that the inner workings remain as cool as possible during operation and keep on top of the power of the Intel Core i9-12900H. Thankfully, unlike some other high-powered Mini PCs, Geekom has opted to go for the Intel CPU coupled with the Intel Iris Xe Graphics, which offers decent but not outstanding performance, enough for moderate gaming but definitely not to be pushed.

On the front are two Type-A USB ports, a 3.5mm headphone socket, and a power button. Around the back are the main HDMI, USB 4, USB Type-A, and DC power socket. While the layout is neat, it is quite cramped due to this Mini PC's compact nature.

One of the big features of this small PC is the upgradability, and access to the inside is made by removing the four screws on the base of the machine. Once loosened, the bottom of the machine can be removed, and the top flipped over to reveal the RAM and SSD slots, adding a small M.2 2242 SSD up to 1TB in capacity.

The design of the XT12 Pro makes it a very powerful PC in its own right. Still, with the addition of the USB 4 ports, this also gives you the ability to make a lot more of this machine than many other Mini PCs as it firstly enables you to plug in high-speed and high-capacity external storage such as the OWC Thunderblade X8 or attach an eGPU to boost the graphics processing performance.

As a Mini PC, this is one of the smallest, but the build quality and weight highlight that this is something a little more than the usual compact computing solution.

  • Design: 4.5/5

Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro: Features

GEEKOM XT Series XT12 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Geekom XT12 Pro Mini PC features a powerful 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H processor, with 14 cores and 20 threads, making it a great choice for heavy-duty tasks such as 4K video editing and 3D modeling software. The XT12 Pro comes with 32GB of RAM as standard and supports up to 64GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200MHz RAM. Although this is the older DDR4 rather than DDR5, it should still ensure decent performance for multitasking and handling large files and applications. The XT12 Pro offers several storage expansion options beyond the 1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD that comes pre-installed. This slot can be upgraded to a 2TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD and an additional 1TB M.2 SATA SSD slot for extra storage.

Display capabilities support office and creative work, with the possibility of attaching up to four 4K displays simultaneously or a single 8K display. Connectivity options include USB 4 Gen3 ports that support power delivery and external GPU connections, enhancing its use in gaming and professional video and modelling applications. The XT12 Pro also includes dual HDMI 2.0 ports and 2.5G Ethernet for high-speed networking.

The compact unibody aluminum chassis helps ensure that the XT12 Pro is not only aesthetic but also durable and resistant to scratches and fingerprints. Although it is heavier than many mini PCs at 546g, it's still a viable comp[act alternative to the best business computers (or even the best business laptops). To ensure that everything stays cool, the XT12 Pro features the innovative IceBlast 1.0 cooling system, which employs copper pipes and a large silent fan to ensure the unit operates coolly and quietly under load.

  • Features: 4.5/5

Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro: Performance

GEEKOM XT Series XT12 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
Benchmarks

Crystal Disk Read: 5095.80MB/s
Crystal Disk Write: 4406.81MB/s
GeekBench CPU Single: 9925
GeekBench CPU Multi: 2300
GeekBench Compute: 14235
PC Mark: 5692
CineBench CPU Multi: 10132
CineBench CPU Single: 1714
Fire Strike Overall: 5031
Fire Strike Graphics: 5513
Fire Strike Physics: 21822
Fire Strike Combined: 1791
Time Spy Overall: 1793
Time Spy Graphics: 1573
Time Spy CPU: 8732
Wild Life: N/A
Windows Experience: 8.3

The Geekom XT12 Pro mini PC delivers impressive performance through real-world tests with Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, multimedia, and some moderate gaming. From the outset, the fast boot into Windows 11 Pro sets a precedent for the use of this machine. Benchmark tests show strong results, with a PC Mark score of 5692, reflecting how the XT12 Pro handles tasks from the outset.

Checking a few easy tasks to start, streaming 4K content through Netflix, Apple, and Amazon Prime is seamless and showcases the strength of its Wi-Fi connection. Checking the disk speed, the Crystal Disk Read and Write scores are 5095.80MB/s and 4406.81MB/s, respectively, more than enough for simple multimedia playback tasks. What this transfer rate highlights is the machine's ability to handle large files for creative applications. However, while the XT12 Pro handles Photoshop and Lightroom Classic with ease, Adobe Bridge strains under high-resolution image scrolling, revealing the limitations of the integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics, reinforced by the GeekBench Compute score of 14235.

Video editing in DaVinci Resolve is manageable for 1080p and basic 4K projects. For more complex tasks involving RAW video, the system reaches its limits, corroborated by the Fire Strike Graphics score of 5513 and a Time Spy Overall score of 1793, indicating moderate graphical processing power. Gaming is feasible at 1080p for Red Dead Redemption II and Cyberpunk 2077, albeit with reduced settings necessary for smooth gameplay. For both video editing and gaming, connecting an eGPU can significantly enhance performance in both disciplines.

Overall, the XT12 Pro is versatile, handling a range of tasks from office work to creative projects and light to moderate gaming at lower resolutions. Its array of benchmark scores from GeekBench, CineBench, and 3D Mark highlights its capacity to balance performance across various uses, making it a suitable choice for professionals and creatives who require a compact computing solution.

  • Performance: 4/5

Should you buy the Geekom XT Series XT12 Pro?

The Geekom XT12 Pro Mini PC offers robust performance, versatile connectivity, and strong upgrade potential, making it a great choice for professionals and creatives. Its Intel Core i9-12900H processor and dual storage options cater to demanding tasks, while its compact design does not compromise on power. With USB 4 ports for expansion and eGPU compatibility, it delivers excellent value for its price and is a scalable solution.

GEEKOM XT Series XT12 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...


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Corsair One i500 review: can a gaming PC evolve gamer culture by embracing old, forgotten ways?
4:00 pm | May 6, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Gaming Computers Gaming PCs | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Corsair One i500: Two-minute review

The Corsair One i500 isn't necessarily the most powerful gaming PC out there, it's not very upgradeable, and in terms of style, it's the kind of product that will inspire some very strong opinions — including my own.

Its specs are such that it is an easy contender for the best gaming PC of 2024 just in terms of performance, and its price is absolutely in line with the kinds of gaming rigs I've seen running Core i9-14900K and RTX 4080 Super or RTX 4090 GPUs. 

Starting at $3,599.99 / £3,499.99 (about $5,220), this isn't a cheap gaming PC, but for what you're getting in terms of specs, you'd normally be getting a standard mid-tower PC case, usually in black, with large RGB fans with a tempered glass side showing off even more RGB trim, and you'd still be paying nearly $3,500 or more for the privilege. 

That is to say, most gaming PCs today lean so heavily on RGB to define their style, that 'style' isn't really even a factor when considering which one to buy. The cases might vary, they might have a wraparound glass panel to show off the insides more fully, but the fundamental design principle of 'show off the components', which are lit up like a carnival, remains the same no matter what PC you buy.

The Corsair One i500, meanwhile, doesn't even have Corsair iCue, the company's proprietary RGB control software. It does have RGB, namely in the two trim lines that flank the case's wooden front panel, but it's limited compared to other gaming PCs. Instead, the Corsair One i500 uses a wooden front panel and fabric side panels to define its aesthetic, along with the aluminum case underneath that comes in either black or silver. 

Depending on the case color, you'll get a different wooden front panel (a walnut color for the black case and a pine color for the silver), and both cost the same, so you won't have to pay a premium for one over the other. The PC also comes with a headphone hanger attachment that can fit onto either side of the case, and there are more than enough ports for whatever peripherals you have.

More than anything, this PC reminds me of the Atari 2600 from my childhood, equipped as it was with a wooden panel along the top edge like everything else was in the early 1980s. That quickly gave way to hard black plastic in later models and soon consoles and later PCs left behind natural textures for futuristic flash and forms that persist up to the present. It's in this milieu that the Corsair One i500 feels like something dropped into the gaming PC market out of a flying Delorean. After so many years of RGB and aggressive gamer aesthetic, it's still shocking how something as simple and retro as a wood panel on the front can feel so refreshing.

It's not all positive, though. If there is anything that can be considered a negative with this PC, it's its lack of easy upgradability. The small form factor case is going to limit what you can fit in it, but the GPU AIO cooler also means that any GPU upgrades in the future are not going to be as simple as dropping in a new graphics card in a few years. You can more easily upgrade the SSD and RAM, however.

But this isn't really a gaming PC for builders or tinkerers. This is much more a gaming PC for those who want the best without messing with the cables and components, but who also want their new gaming PC to reflect their significant investment. In that, the Corsair One i500 is unmatched.

Corsair One i500: Price & availability

A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • How much is it? Starting at $3,599.99 / £3,499.99 (about $5,220)
  • When is it available? Available May 6, 2024
  • Where can you get it? You can get it in the US and the UK at launch, with Australia availability in June 2024.

The Corsair One i500 is available in the US and UK now, starting at $3,599.99 and £3,499.99, respectively. It will be available in Australia in June, but official pricing hasn't been released for the APAC region yet.

Both configurations available at launch come with an Intel Core i9-1400K processor and 2TB NVMe storage, and the base configuration comes with an Nvidia RTX 4080 Super and 32GB DDR5 RAM, while the max configuration comes with an Nvidia RTX 4090 and 64GB DDR5 RAM for $4,699.99 / £4,699.99.

This is more expensive than something like the current Alienware Aurora R16, which maxes out at an Intel Core i9-14900KF, RTX 4090, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and 2TB PCIe NVMe storage for $4,049.99 / £3,919. In Australia, the Aurora R16 maxes out at AU$5,772.80 for an Intel Core i9-14900KF, an Nvidia RTX 4080 Super, 64GB DDR5 RAM, and 2TB storage.

Other gaming PCs like the Acer Predator Orion 7000 and HP Omen 40L will sell for roughly the same as the Aurora R16, so the Corsair One i500 is going to be more expensive than the competition, but its competition also features much of the same style as every other gaming PC you've seen in a Best Buy or Curry's for the past decade. Whether the Corsair One i500's style is worth the extra premium will be up to you, but after all the gaming PCs I've reviewed over the years, I believe it's absolutely worth the premium.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Corsair One i500: Specs

A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Up to an RTX 4090 with AIO liquid cooling
  • Not easily upgradable
  • Specs: 4.5 / 5

Corsair One i500: Design

A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Gorgeous small form-factor case
  • Ample cooling fans
  • Fabric side panels might get grimey over time

A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

The Corsair One i500's biggest appeal is its style.

I haven't seen a wood-paneled gaming device since the Atari 2600, and that device was released when I was a toddler. That's been enough time, I think, for a wood-paneled device to be cool again, and given the state of PC gaming hardware for the past several years, seeing something new is more than just refreshing.

I can't say that the Corsair One i500 will transform PC gaming culture to move beyond its decade-old Decepticon-inspired PC cases with over-the-top RGB lighting, but I hope it inspires a new paradigm for what companies can do with a gaming PC. The market desperately needs it.

In terms of specific design notes, this is technically a small form factor gaming PC, though it is bigger than something like the Asus ROG G22CH. Taller than it is wide or deep, this is more like a gaming console than a traditional gaming PC. If you've been looking for a living room PC, this will fit right in with a living room aesthetic.

A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

If you spend this much money on a gaming PC, you should hopefully be able to upgrade to an Nvidia 5000 series graphics card in a few years, but the small form factor case is going to limit what size GPU you can fit. 

On top of that, the graphics card in this case is unshrouded, relying on an AIO GPU cooler to manage heat dissipation. You could obviously take all of the fans and heatsink off of any future graphics card you buy and fit it into this PC, but understandably, this is a fairly advanced modification for a GPU.

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A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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A Corsair One i500 on a desk

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A Corsair One i500 on a desk

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A Corsair One i500 on a desk

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A Corsair One i500 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

On top of the internals, there are a number of distinct design features that you won't really find anywhere else. 

First, the side panels are covered in a soft, breathable fabric. This creates a very cool look to the PC, but fabric in tech devices tend to discolor and gunk up over time, especially if they cover a fan blowing dust out of a PC case.

Still, the fabric panels are a beautiful design touch. Another very cool feature is the tap-to-activate light on the backside of the case, which you can tap to light up the backports while you're plugging in peripherals and other cables. It's a small touch, but given that the backside of a gaming PC can often be cast in shadow, having an easy way to illuminate the area in question is incredibly useful.

Taken all together, the Corsair One i500 is the coolest prebuilt gaming PC I've ever used, and it's all the more impressive given how far it stretches past the 'accepted' gamer aesthetic into something new. I'm sure a lot of people won't like the design of this PC, but I don't care. The fact that Corsair took the risk to make a dramatically different kind of PC earns five stars in my book.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Corsair One i500: Performance

  • Fantastic gaming 4K performance
  • You can probably get the same kind of performance for cheaper if you don't mind less appealing aesthetics

Now, as good as the Corsair One i500 looks, this is a gaming PC, so its performance matters as much as — if not more than — its aesthetics. In this regard, you won't be disappointed with this PC.

Its starting GPU, the RTX 4080 Super, is one of the best 4K graphics cards on the market, second only to the Nvidia RTX 4090, which is an optional upgrade for the Corsair One i500. So no matter which GPU you get, you'll be able to get 4K@60FPS on just about any title on the market, especially if you enable Nvidia's DLSS 3 in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and any game that features ray tracing.

The RTX 4090, however, is the only graphics card I've ever tested that can get you close to 60 FPS in Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing maxed out without upscaling, so if you're looking to play 4K at native resolution, you do at least have the option of going with the RTX 4090.

Given the hardware here, this is also a very competent creative performer, so those who like to get some work done will like what's on offer here, but I wouldn't call this the best workstation PC going. This is a gaming PC through and through, and it's here that this PC excels.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Corsair One i500?

Buy the Corsair One i500 if...

Don't buy it if...

  • First reviewed May 2024
Minisforum Venus NAB9 mini PC review
9:32 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Minisforum Venus NAB9: 30-second review

Specs

CPU: Intel i9-12900HK
Graphics: Intel Iris XE 
RAM: 32 GB DDR4Storage: M.2 2280 PCIe4.0 ‎1 TB SSD (Up to 2TB)
Rear Ports: Dual 2.5G Ethernet Ports, 2xHDMI ports and 2xUSB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (1 DP only), 2xUSB-A 3.2 Gen 2
Front Ports: 1xUSB-C, 2xUSB-A, 3.5mm audio
Connectivity: Wi-Fi6, BT5.2
Audio: 3.5mmCamera: n/a
Size: 180 mm x 208 mm x 67 mm.
OS installed: Windows 11 Home
Accessories: 120W GAD power Supply, SATA Expansion cable

Minisforum has designed the NAB9 targeting power users as its base, those who need the robust capabilities of a CPU to power through office and creative tasks but without the extensive GPU power that gaming requires, thereby keeping heat generation down.

Equipped with an Intel i9-12900HK and Intel Iris XE graphics, along with 32GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, this mini PC handles most office tasks, Photoshop jobs, and general 4K video editing software with relative ease. It is also well-equipped when it comes to connectivity, offering plenty of USB Type-C and Type-A ports, facilitating a range of accessories, although it's worth noting that one of the USB Type-C ports on the back is for display use only.

With two HDMI and two USB Type-C ports on the back, the machine allows for connecting up to four monitors without issue. The connectivity options are well catered for, with the M.2 2230 Wi-Fi support card ensuring a powerful wireless connection beyond most other mini PCs. For those needing the reliability of a wired connection, there are two RJ45 2.5G LAN ports.

Like many of the best mini PCs we've tested, this machine, while powerful, is all about balance. Handling image and video files is perfectly possible, though it's more suited for entry to mid-level work rather than professional tasks. However, the USB Type-C ports allow for storage expansion through external hard drives, and the data transfer rate for Premiere Pro and Photoshop is sufficient to keep up with workflow demands. The introduction of USB 4 would enhance data transfer and enable the use of eGPUs, but this would add considerably to the cost of this compact machine. Additionally, while 32GB of RAM is the baseline for video editing and is adequate in this system, it uses older DDR4 rather than the latest DDR5, but it handles video and image content well as long as video productions are simple and short.

Switching to gaming, most games run fine, with Portal 2 running smoothly. However, more recent games like Cyberpunk and Red Dead Redemption II require lower graphics quality—this is where USB 4 and DDR5 would have boosted performance, especially with the addition of an eGPU.

Considering the price, this mini PC has plenty to offer, and the i9 CPU, along with the RAM, storage, and generous cooling, ensures that the Minisforum NAB9 runs fast for extended periods. While it may not be the best choice for the latest games, it is a superb machine for everything else.

Minisforum Venus NAB9: Price & availability

Minisforum Venus NAB9

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Minisforum Venus NAB9 is widely available and can be purchased directly through the Minisforum website or Amazon.com. It is available in a variety of options; the 32GB, 1TB version reviewed here will set you back $509. Additionally, there is a barebones version available, allowing you to select your own SSD and RAM.

  • Score: 4/5

Minisforum Venus NAB9: Design & build

Minisforum Venus NAB9

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Minisforum Venus NAB9 sits in the mid-range when it comes to mini PC size, featuring a standard footprint and a slightly taller frame that accommodates the additional cooling required for the powerful Intel i9-12900HK CPU inside. The choice of case design helps keep the machine cool when working at full throttle, and the metal sides with vent slots and silver plastic top all contribute to giving this mini PC a slightly premium look and feel.

There are some nice touches to the design, such as the layout of the rear ports. The LAN ports take center stage, flanked by HDMI and USB ports on either side, USB Type-A on one side, and the power socket on the other. This arrangement makes it extremely easy to set up on a desk, with the ability to neatly arrange the cable layout into monitors, keyboards, mice, and accessories.

Likewise, the small selection of USB and audio ports on the front, along with the small power-on button, make plugging in headphones and other accessories convenient.

As the machine has a variety of configuration options, including barebones, it's nice to see easy access to the inner workings. Accessing the SSD and RAM is simply a case of pushing down on the front of the top plate; it then clicks, releases, and can be removed. Inside, everything is clear and easy to access in case of a component swap-around or upgrade. One of the features that will appeal to anyone wanting to boost the standard 512GB or 1TB storage is that this machine can be upgraded to 2TB. If that's still not enough, the lid of the machine is designed to hold a 2.5" SSD with the screws and cables provided in the box, although the purchase of the SSD is separate. This means if you want to pop in an 8TB SSD, you can, and this connects through the SATA expansion cable. Likewise, the 32GB of RAM in the review machine can also be upgraded to a maximum of 64GB, which could be ideal if you are looking to use the machine for photo or video work.

As a compact business computer, the design is very neat and discreet, with the metal silver finish giving it an understated yet stylish look.

  • Design: 5/5

Minisforum Venus NAB9: Features

GEEKOM XT Series XT12 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The MINISFORUM Venus Series NAB9 Mini PC is designed for business use, blending high performance with a sleek, compact form factor. If you wanted a portable business laptop alternative, this will adequately fulfil that role. At its core, the Intel Core i9-12900HK processor features a hybrid architecture with 14 cores and 20 threads, capable of speeds up to 5.0GHz. Combined with Intel Iris Xe Graphics, this setup provides ample processing power for office, multimedia, creative tasks, and moderate gaming needs.

Connectivity is a major feature of the NAB9, with dual 2.5G Ethernet ports enabling a variety of networking options such as ultra-secure firewalls and file storage servers. For convenience in wireless connectivity, the NAB9 includes dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 on a replaceable M.2 2230 card, which not only ensures a robust wireless connection but also future-proofs the unit to some extent for upgrades.

Monitor connection is another area where the NAB9 provides plenty of options. It supports up to four displays at 4K resolution and 60Hz, made possible by two HDMI and two USB-C ports.

Our review unit arrived pre-equipped with 32GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory (max 64GB) and a 1TB M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 SSD (max 2TB), both of which can be upgraded easily thanks to a user-friendly pop-up design of the top. There's also the option to secure a larger capacity 2.5" SATA drive into the lid to expand storage.

Cooling is critical and can often be an issue with the mini PC format; the NAB9 addresses this with an innovative cooling system that includes dual heat pipes, dual air vents, and a new active solid-state heat sink complemented by side cooling openings. Unlike some other mini PCs, the NAB9 does not include boosted graphics, so while it is powerful and capable of moderate gaming performance, the focus here is on the processing power for other uses. 

  • Features: 4/5

Minisforum Venus NAB9: Performance

Minisforum Venus NAB9

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
Benchmarks

Crystal Disk Read: 4805.93MB/s
Crystal Disk Write: 3900.54MB/s
GeekBench CPU Single: 10689
GeekBench CPU Multi:
 2300
GeekBench Compute: 14636
PC Mark:
 5872
CineBench CPU Multi: 12081
CineBench CPU Single:
 1654
Fire Strike Overall: 5002
Fire Strike Graphics:
 5350
Fire Strike Physics: 26384
Fire Strike Combined: 1851
Time Spy Overall:
 1807
Time Spy Graphics: 1577
Time Spy CPU:
 10625
Wild Life: 11983
Windows Experience: 8.3

The Minisforum Venus Series NAB9 Mini PC's performance is impressive, especially considering its compact size. This is primarily due to the Intel Core i9-12900HK processor, which provides substantial processing power for a range of applications, from office productivity to creative media work. Minisforum has carefully considered the components used in this small machine, focusing on the essentials needed for a fast office machine rather than gaming. This does mean there is a compromise, with no DDR5 RAM, USB 4 ports, or higher-end graphics.

Starting with everyday tasks, the NAB9 handles Microsoft Office applications with ease, ensuring smooth operation across all Office apps without any noticeable slowdown. This performance is reflected in its PC Mark score of 5872, indicating strong general productivity capabilities with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

When it comes to creative software, the NAB9 manages processor-intensive tasks well, with Adobe Photoshop tasks like image manipulation and enhancement being handled efficiently. However, the absence of a dedicated GPU means it faces challenges with high-resolution graphic data in Adobe Bridge, a common compromise in mini PCs. Its performance in Adobe Premiere Pro is decent enough; editing 1080p footage is smooth, and even 4K footage remains manageable unless you push the machine to edit log3 quality footage, at which point it begins to falter.

This machine is ideal for businesses where some image and video enhancement is needed. Its power and cooling mean it can handle those demanding tasks with relative ease. It's suited for footage captured on phones or using standard quality settings for images and stills before switching to RAW or Log formats.

For gaming, the NAB9's limitations become apparent when dealing with graphically intensive titles like Red Dead Redemption II and Cyberpunk 2077 at native 4K resolution. While the device struggles at higher settings and resolutions, lowering the resolution to 1080p allows for a much better gaming experience, albeit at the cost of visual fidelity. This is corroborated by its 3D benchmark scores, with Fire Strike and Time Spy graphics scores of 5350 and 1577, respectively, indicating that while capable, it's not intended for high-end gaming.

The device's storage performance is fast, with Crystal Disk scores of 4805.93 MB/s read and 3900.54 MB/s write. This ensures that data transfer and loading times are exceptionally quick, which is beneficial for applications requiring frequent access to large files.

Benchmark scores in other areas further reflect the NAB9's strengths and weaknesses. Its GeekBench scores show a strong single-core performance at 10689 but a lower multi-core score of 2300, suggesting it handles single-threaded tasks well but may lag in more intensive multi-threaded operations. Similarly, CineBench scores highlight good performance, especially in multi-core tests, which is crucial for tasks like video rendering and software compilation.

Overall, the Minisforum Venus Series NAB9 mini PC is a solid business-focused mini PC ideal for those whose work involves office applications, moderate use of the best video editing software and photo editors, and occasional gaming at adjusted settings. Its performance benchmarks in real-world applications highlight that the NAB9 balances compactness with capability, making it a great option for a variety of uses.

  • Performance: 4/5

Should you buy the Minisforum Venus NAB9?

The MINISFORUM Venus Series NAB9 Mini PC excels as a business and creativity-focused system, powered by a robust Intel i9 processor and ample connectivity options. While it efficiently handles office tasks and moderates creative and video work, its gaming capabilities and the absence of the latest ports like USB 4.0 and DDR5 RAM might deter more tech-savvy users seeking cutting-edge specifications. Nevertheless, for professional environments and typical productivity tasks, it offers great value, ensuring high performance without the risk of overheating, thanks to its efficient design and cooling system.

Minisforum Venus NAB9

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...


We've tested the best laptops for photo editing - and here's the ones we rate

Beats Solo 4 review: a solid update to an iconic pair of wireless headphones, but the competition is now too hot
7:00 pm | May 5, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones Wireless Headphones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Beats Solo 4: Two-minute review

The Beats Solo 4 are long-awaited on-ear wireless headphones that aim to improve on the company's 2016 Solo 3 with an increased battery life and additional features, including a USB-C port for simultaneous charging and lossless hi-res audio playback, and Spatial Audio – as well as some new color options.

When wearing the Beats Solo 4, I was pleasantly surprised at how well isolated I was from my immediate environment, despite the lack of active noise cancellation (ANC). The claimed 50-hour battery appeared to hold true during my tests too, which is great for such comparatively small and light headphones.

As with most of the best Beats headphones, style is at the forefront, and the Slate Blue variant I tested certainly makes a statement (they are also available in Matte Black and Cloud Pink). Some parts of the plastic build and headband padding feel cheap, though, and certain aspects of its engineering, such as the folding mechanism, don’t inspire much confidence.

They offer a secure fit that’s impressively solid for on-ear headphones, withstanding the rigors of physical activity without shifting, which is important considering that Beats is promoting these headphones for exercise. However, on-ear headphones don’t really work for my ear comfort, and these did nothing to change that – and long-term comfort is made worse by the lack of adequate padding on the headband; I couldn’t use them for more than an hour at a time. 

The controls also provide issues: the main 'b' button is easy to accidentally press when hanging Solo 4 around the neck, and I found the volume buttons hard to locate while wearing. Pressing them also puts undue pressure onto the ears, which, as you can imagine, is an uncomfortable sensation. 

The sound is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Solo 4. The bass response can be impactful at times but wooly at others, while the mids sound muddy and lack punch compared to more of the best wireless headphones at the same price. These problems aren’t solved if you listen via any of the higher-quality wired options. The upper mids are where the Solo 4 sound their best, but the highest frequencies don’t have enough sparkle and clarity in comparison to the competition.

The Sony ULT Wear WH-ULT900N, for example, are the same price in the US (and cheaper in the UK), and beat the Solo 4 on pretty much all fronts: they have much better sound, comfort levels, and come with ANC. The Sennheiser Accentum Plus is another superb option for those who want something more audiophile-friendly, with impressive ANC and wireless hi-res support.

Beats Solo 4 held in hand

(Image credit: Future)

Beats Solo 4 review: Price & release date

  • Priced $199 / £199 / AU$329
  • Launched in May 2024
  • Available in Matte Black, Slate Blue and Cloud Pink

The Beats Solo 4 are priced at $199 / £199 / AU$329 officially, and were available to buy from May 2nd, 2024.

This is lower than today's flagship headphones – the Beats Studio Pro are $349 / £349, while the Sony WH-1000XM5 officially cost $349 / £299. Both of these are larger, over-ear models with ANC. 

For basically the same price as the Solo 4, you could also get the Sony ULT Wear WH-ULT900N or the Sennheiser Accentum Plus. Both of these are over-ear rather than on-ear, which usually improves low-end frequency response, and feature ANC and some other features lacking here. The Sennheiser headphones also match the Solo 4’s 50-hour battery, even with ANC on.

Beats Solo 4 review: Specs

Beats Solo 4 close-up of left driver

(Image credit: Future)

Beats Solo 4 review: Features

  • Apple and Android smart features
  • Lossless wired playback via 3.5mm and USB-C
  • No active noise cancellation

The feature set for the Beats Solo 4 is what you would expect from a modern pair of wireless headphones. One-touch Bluetooth connectivity made it easy for me to connect to Android, iPhone and Windows PCs, and lossless audio playback is supported via a wired USB-C connection. This means you can listen to sources that provide superior quality to MP3 or AAC file formats, imparting more detail across the entire frequency range, theoretically. Simultaneous charging is also possible when connected to devices that provide power. 

However, there is no high-resolution audio support when connected via Bluetooth, as the Beats Solo 4 only support AAC and SBC wirelessly, which are both compressed formats; there’s no aptX or LDAC.

There is also a 3.5mm analog input and included cable so you can use them just like a traditional pair of wired headphones, meaning you can enjoy unlimited playback without using any battery power. Again, this can offer higher-quality audio than Bluetooth, and is useful on planes.

The Beats app is responsive, easy to use, and offers options to easily manage privacy controls, such as location permission, notifications and analytics, and battery optimization settings. It also provides the battery level as a percentage that actually updates for all 100 numbers, which is very useful (and not something all headphones provide – some just note when they've dropped by 20%, for example). 

There's fast pairing and auto-switching between compatible devices for both iOS and Android ecosystems – and the Find My system for both platforms in supported. However, Apple users get a few extra features, such as hands-free 'Hey Siri' access and Audio Sharing, which lets users share playback with multiple pairs of AirPods or Beats headphones at a time. Better than these, though, is that Apple users get Personalized Spatial Audio for movies or Dolby Atmos music. There’s no support for this on Android.

I mentioned auto-switching between devices above, but be warned that this only worth within the Apple or Android systems. So, it auto-switches between iPhone and Mac; or it switches between Android and Chromebook. There's no standard multi-point pairing, so you can't switch between, say, an Android phone and Windows laptop seamlessly.

True to their minimalist aesthetic, the Beat Solo 4 headphones only have four buttons, and all of them are pretty well hidden. The main 'b' button is on the left hand side and integrated with the company logo, and controls main functions, such as play/pause and skip track, depending on the number of times it is pressed. The button is tactile and operates smoothly, although I did find it easy to press accidentally, especially when they’re hung around the neck.

The volume controls are located on the ring around the 'b' button, with the top half increasing volume and the bottom decreasing. Again, these function well, but they require too much force to register, which meant I was pressing the entire left driver into the side of my head, which isn't comfortable.

The power button is perhaps the most hidden of all, being a tiny little dot finished in the same color as the rest of the headphones. Locating this blindly when wearing the Solo 4 isn’t easy. It also has to be held down for a few seconds, but hold for too long, and you enter pairing mode. Getting the timing right is tricky, and the only audio prompt you get is when the Bluetooth connection is established. The only indication that the Solo 4 are turned on is a small LED on the outside. Basically, make sure you turn them on before they're on your head.

The microphone is also high quality, although perhaps too eager to pick up extraneous noises. When making a test call with the Solo 4, my interlocutor commented that, although I was coming through clearly and loudly despite the considerable amount of wind outside, other background noises also came through prominently, such as people talking around me in the street.

Beats quotes the battery life as being a generous 50 hours of playback. And during my test, this figure seemed to live up to reality.

I tracked them as generally losing around 5% battery per 2.5 hours (without Spatial Audio turned on), which puts them right in line for the 50-hour claims from Beats. I also observed them drop around 10% after a 6.5 hours of playback too, so you may get a little over 50 hours – but as usual with headphones, it can depend on volume and other factors.

  • Features score: 4/5

Beats Solo 4 wireless headphones close-up of ear pads

(Image credit: Future)

Beats Solo 4 review: Sound quality

  • Bass is hit-and-miss
  • Boxy lower mids, clear upper mids
  • Great passive noise isolation

Despite Beats having a reputation for bass-heavy headphones, the Solo 4 are pretty controlled on this front. The low frequencies are deep without being overbearing, although they don’t have the precision and control I would hope for. There are times when the bass is too boomy and wooly, especially noticeable in songs with sustained low notes.

The lower mids are also disappointingly muddy, but the upper mids are pleasantly crisp without being harsh. Songs with detailed percussive arrangements, for instance, come across well in the Solo 4. But the highest frequencies don’t sparkle as much as they could, lacking the finer details at the top end of the spectrum.

When connected via USB-C rather than Bluetooth, you get access to lossless audio, which, in theory at least, should provide a listening experience fit for audiophiles. During my audio test via USB-C with our special TechRadar playlist on Tidal – which provides lossless music streaming – the results weren’t radically different to Bluetooth. The bass was still amiss, and while the mids were more punchy, they still weren’t as clear as I would have liked. Using the 3.5mm analog input seemed to marginally improve the quality of these frequencies, but not by much.

In comparison to the Sony ULT Wear headphones and Sennheiser Accentum Wireless that I've already mentioned in this review, there's no competition really – these both offer more detail, a better balance across the frequencies, and a clearly richer experience overall.

Where the Solo 4 shine, though, is the noise isolation. Despite not having any active noise cancellation profiles, external sounds are blocked out well. This helps songs with heavy reverb and a strong sense of space to be comprehensively conveyed. Spatial Audio experiences are also improved by the isolation, making the illusion of the surround sound theater experience more compelling. The dynamic head tracking meant that whichever way I turned my head, even slightly, the audio panned to always match the direction of the source. 

At this price, it’s hard to get a better movie sound experience on headphones than Apple's Spatial Audio tech provides. This is a nice bonus if you'll watch a lot of movies, but really still has limited appeal for those who will only listen to music with them. 

  • Sound quality score: 3/5

Beats Solo 4 wireless headphones in their case

(Image credit: Future)

Beats Solo 4 review: Design

  • Snug and secure fit
  • Uncomfortable for sustained periods
  • Nice colors, but limited selection

The case that comes with the Beats Solo 4 is made from a soft fabric material, which makes for a lighter carrying weight. However, it does make me more concerned about their safety when buried at the bottom of a backpack or stuffed in a suitcase than if they had a hard case.

The opening for the case is also quite small, so using it isn’t exactly a seamless experience: it’s near-impossible to take them out without sliding the headband adjustments, and putting back the included 3.5mm analog and USB-C cables in their own pouches within the case is also quite the chore, since the openings for those are very small as well.

And despite being smaller than over-ear headphones, the depth of the case means that they aren't that much smaller to carry around, if at all. The Sony ULT Wear WH-ULT900N over-ear wireless headphones, for instance – which are bigger than the Solo 4 – have a case which is longer and wider, but thinner, which is something I personally prefer, as I find such cases easier to pack away. 

The Solo 4 stay true to the Beats aesthetic, looking almost identical to the Solo 3. The look is minimal and the Beats logo is displayed prominently on the sides of each can, so everyone knows what you’re wearing. The Slate Blue finish I had is vibrant without being garish, although Matte Black and Cloud Pink are other color options you can choose from. It's a little disappointing there are only three options, since the Solo 3 came in five colors, but I'm sure more will become available over time.

The adjustments on the headband are smooth and relatively easy to make – although this was trickier while wearing them, as they were fairly tight on me. The hinge mechanisms for folding the earcups feels quite loose, and so doesn’t hold them in folded position with much support. The plastic used for the overall construction doesn’t especially premium either when compared to the likes of Sony and Bose headphones.

The fit is very snug and secure, despite being an on-ear design, and so having less surface area on the pads to grip your head. Having used them for exercise, I can say that they stay on without the slightest deviation. Beats has mentioned exercise as a key use case for the Solo 4, and even in a world of fitness-focused earbuds, they do this job very well.

The price I paid for this secureness, however, was a lack of comfort overall. Despite the particularly plush ear pads, the Solo 4 felt the same as any other pair of on-ear headphones I have tried – which is to say, painful after long sessions. Not everyone feels the same but, if you’re someone with sensitive ears to pressure, like me, then these aren’t going to be the on-ear headphones that change your mind. Glasses wearers will also be in even more potential pain – but again, I will concede this is something I am personally quite sensitive to.

But with the Beats Solo 4, the more universal issue is the feeble headband padding, which meant that the top of my head felt the strain as well. The rubber coating also feels cheap and offers too much grip if anything, often sticking to my hair, causing issues when sliding them on and off. 

The upshot is that I couldn’t wear the Solo 4 for more than an hour at a time before I had to give my cranium a break. But when you do take them off and hang them around your neck, I encountered another problem: since the earcups don’t swivel, the edges can rest uncomfortably between the chin and collarbone. It may seem like a small point, but other headphones at this price point do have rotating cups to rectify this problem and make life more comfortable.

  • Design score: 3/5

Beats Solo 4 held in hand face on

(Image credit: Future)

Beats Solo 4 review: Value

  • Rivals offer better sound for the same price
  • No ANC is disappointing
  • Smart features for both Android and iOS is rare

The Beats Solo 4 are priced at $199 / £199 / AU$329, and the competition at this point is quite stiff. The Sony ULT Wear WH-ULT900N, for instance, are currently available for the same price, if not cheaper, and best the Solo 4 in virtually every aspect. I tested them directly against the Solo 4, since we had both in for review at the same time.

The Sony headphones have superior sound and comfort levels, as well as having more features, including ANC. The Beats Solo 4 almost get away with this omission thanks to their frankly excellent natural noise isolating capabilities, but it’s still far perfect, and other headphones at this price point feature ANC too.

In no small part, you'll be paying for the specific styling and the unique mix of Android- and iOS-friendly features. A lot of people will feel that's worth it, but I'm not sure it's quite enough. These features, plus Apple's top-tier Spatial Audio, good battery life and USB-C audio mean they're reasonable for the price overall – but you can spend your money better.

  • Value score: 2.5/5

Should I buy the Beats Solo 4?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Beats Solo 4 review: Also consider

How I tested the Beats Solo 4

  • Tested on Android, iPhone and PC
  • Streamed music from Tidal and used stored MP3 tracks
  • Tested over 10 days

I tested the Beats Solo 4 over the course of a week, in various scenarios. I tried them with an Android phone and an iPhone, as well as a laptop and a Fiio M11S high resolution music player. I made use of all their supported features, including wireless playback via Bluetooth, and wired via 3.5mm analog and USB-C. 

I listened to music directly from lowly MP3 files in 320kbps quality, as well as via hi-res streaming service Tidal. I tested them with a variety of genres, including rock, pop, electronic, classical and jazz. I listened both in quiet indoor environments and noisy outdoor ones. I also tried exercising with them to test how secure the fit was.

I also made phone calls and recorded voice memos with the Solo 4 to test the microphone quality too. 

I also tested the battery life by leaving the headphones connected to a mobile device via Bluetooth to play through a playlist at a typical listening volume.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: May 2024
GameSir Nova controller review: one step forward, one step back, but still a quality budget controller
5:00 pm | May 4, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

GameSir Nova controller: One-minute review

The GameSir Nova controller drops the ‘Lite’ part of its companion gamepad. Given that and its slightly higher price tag, you’d expect the Nova to be better than the GameSir Nova Lite. However, this isn’t necessarily the case, as while the Nova does do certain things better, it’s undoubtedly worse in other areas.

There are some very welcome upgrades here, including superb-feeling digital triggers, phenomenal HD Rumble implementation, and some lovely customizable RGB - all of which are rare for gamepads this cheap. However, one puzzling aspect of the GameSir Nova is the downgrade in overall build quality compared to its cheaper counterpart.

What we’re left with is a budget controller we’d still highly recommend, but it’s one that feels more like an alternative option with its own advantages and drawbacks, as opposed to being flat-out better than the Nova Lite.

GameSir Nova

(Image credit: Future)

GameSir Nova controller: Price and availability

  • $34.99 / £39.99
  • Exactly $10 / £10 pricier than the GameSir Nova Lite
  • US and UK availability

Despite being more expensive than the GameSir Nova Lite, the standard GameSir Nova still falls well within that 'budget' price bracket. It’s $34.99 / £39.99 and can be purchased either from the brand’s website or its Amazon store page.

There are two colorways available for the GameSir Nova, both at the same retail price. They have a decidedly retro-inspired look, with one calling on the design of the US Super Nintendo Entertainment System controller with its white plastic and purple face buttons. The other is a pleasing translucent blue/green, bringing to mind similar Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color models.

It’s a price point that’s to be expected from the GameSir brand. Elsewhere, the GameSir T4 Kaleid, which ranks on our list of the best PC controllers, is similarly affordable at $41.99 / £41.99.

GameSir Nova controller: Specs

GameSir Nova

(Image credit: Future)

GameSir Nova controller: Design and features

The strangest thing about the GameSir Nova is that while it’s about 3.5oz (100 grams) heavier than the Nova Lite (likely because of the HD Rumble and a larger battery), it feels rather listless due to a hollow build. Give the controller a solid tap and you can feel that hollowness echo its way through the shell of the gamepad.

While not quite a deal-breaker for the controller, it does feel less sturdy and solid than the Nova Lite despite being slightly weightier. It leaves overall build quality feeling like something of an afterthought, which is disappointing given the brand’s pedigree of solidly built budget controllers. 

While we also criticized the (otherwise excellent) GameSir X2s Type-C mobile controller for its cheap-feeling plastic, we can point to both the Nova Lite and the T4 Kaleid as examples of GameSir absolutely nailing build quality. So the standard Nova does disappoint somewhat on this front.

Thankfully, the Nova makes up for this with some lovely aesthetic flourishes. I adore both the translucent and SNES-inspired colors and find them much more appealing than the Nova Lite’s basic black or white. The purple face buttons complement both, too. There are also some eye-catching RGB rings around both analog sticks. So while build quality is a bit of a bust, the GameSir Nova certainly has the looks.

In terms of modules, the GameSir Nova fills out the standard Nintendo Switch Pro Controller layout with asymmetrical sticks and a Home and Screenshot button in the center alongside the Start and Select buttons. There are some noteworthy extras here, though, including two remappable buttons for secondary inputs on the rear, a Function button to customize various aspects of the controller (more on that later), and comfortable digital triggers that work excellently on Nintendo Switch.

GameSir Nova

(Image credit: Future)

GameSir Nova controller: Performance

While the GameSir Nova is compatible across multiple platforms, I found it to be the best fit for Switch overall, given its option for Bluetooth connectivity and the inverted A/B/X/Y button layout that Nintendo Switch controllers are known for. That said, it’s still perfectly serviceable on PC and mobile devices, making for a versatile gamepad so long as you’re not fussed about it lacking PS5 and Xbox console support.

What really surprises me with the GameSir Nova is the phenomenal implementation of HD Rumble. While I don’t think it’s quite the same tech as Nintendo uses in its official controllers, GameSir’s attempt is incredibly convincing. It feels especially immersive in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, seemingly traveling the vibration across the controller during drifts and shaking forcefully when being hit with an item. 

Super Mario Odyssey feels exceptional here, too, with the HD Rumble bouncing pleasantly in line with the plumber’s acrobatics. It’s my favorite feature the GameSir Nova brings to the table, and this alone makes it worth considering over the Nova Lite. It’s impressively tactile and the closest thing you’ll get to the DualSense’s haptic feedback on Nintendo Switch.

As is the case with most of the brand’s controllers, the GameSir Nova features Hall effect analog sticks and triggers. These are fantastic and achieve two key things: preventing stick drift over long-term use and ensuring it’ll have a longer lifespan than gamepads that don’t utilize the tech.

The digital triggers, too, are sublime, at least on Nintendo Switch where pressure-sensitive trigger inputs are practically non-existent. These are an excellent fit for Splatoon 3’s simple shooting mechanics as well as swift item usage in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

GameSir Nova

(Image credit: Future)

The initial pairing sequence is a little tricky, so I’ll save you from having to dig out the manual by explaining it here. On Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to go to the Change Grip/Order controller menu and hold down a combination of the Home and X buttons for a few seconds. It should successfully pair with no issues after that. Pairing to mobile devices is Home and the B button, while for PC, it’s Home plus the Y button.

As with the Nova Lite, the GameSir Nova features a robust Multifunction button that can customize several facets of the controller. With it, you can assign secondary inputs to those two back buttons (L4 and R4), calibrate the analog sticks’ dead zones, and customize the gamepad’s RGB colors and patterns. Unlike the Nova Lite, the standard Nova supports motion controls. Thus, gyro calibration can also be done through the Multifunction button by laying the controller on a flat surface.

Sadly, battery life isn’t particularly exceptional with the GameSir Nova. Despite having a 1,200mAh battery in comparison to the Nova Lite’s 600mAh battery, I got around 12 hours from the Nova on a full charge; that’s only a couple of hours more than its counterpart. Mileage may vary here, of course, and the addition of HD Rumble, gyro support, and RGB lighting will eat into the battery life more. Still, it falls short for a console that’s known for controllers with impressively high battery lives, such as the 8BitDo Ultimate’s 20 hours or the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller’s astonishing 40-50 hours.

Should I buy the GameSir Nova?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

Want to learn about a broader range of top Nintendo Switch and PC controllers? Consider the following options, which are some of our favorite alternative picks.

How I tested the GameSir Nova

  • Tested for 15-20 hours
  • Tested with Nintendo Switch and PC games
  • Stacked up against the GameSir Nova Lite and other popular Switch controllers

I tested the GameSir Nova across both Nintendo Switch and PC for approximately 15-20 hours in total. I covered a broad range of games with the controller, including big Nintendo Switch hits like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, alongside titles that heavily feature gyro aiming such as Splatoon 3. On PC, I ran through some stalwarts in my Steam library via a Type-C wired USB connection, including Tekken 8, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, and Final Fantasy 14 Online.

I was especially keen to know how the Nova stacked up against its Nova Lite counterpart. Here, I learned that despite the additional features, the Nova isn’t necessarily better given its relatively cheap build quality. Overall, I see the Nova as a good sidegrade to the Nova Lite, and both offer something that makes them worth considering individually.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

GameSir Nova Lite controller review: a cheap controller we can actually recommend
7:09 pm | April 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The GameSir Nova Lite is a much better controller than its ultra-low price suggests. Yes, it’s a little on the basic side, lacking fancier premium features like RGB lighting and additional remappable buttons; but it makes up for this by simply being a very solid, long-lasting controller that's available at a fantastic price.

Despite the GameSir Nova Lite’s low price, the build quality is very solid, and the textured grips on the rear are a welcome addition. What’s more, the inclusion of Hall-effect thumbsticks help to give the controller a much longer lifespan by effectively eliminating the risk of stick drift, and while this is to be expected for the brand’s products, as we see with the GameSir T4 Kaleid and GameSir X2s Type-C, it’s very welcome at this price. 

It’s not the most feature-rich controller, nor does it have the highest-quality modules. It is, though, excellent value for money, which makes the GameSir Nova Lite well worth considering if you’re looking to purchase a new (or spare) PC, Nintendo Switch, or Android controller without breaking the bank.

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • $24.99 / £29.99 (around AU$40)
  • One of the cheapest controllers we’d actually recommend
  • US and UK availability

The GameSir Nova Lite is available now for $24.99 / £29.99 (around AU$40) either from the brand’s official website or its Amazon store page. While US and UK availability is plentiful, folks in Australia may need to look at importing one, as it’s not officially available there at the time of writing.

It's easy to be suspicious of a controller with such a low price tag. However, in our testing across multiple products, we’ve found GameSir to be an highly reputable brand that consistently puts out some of the best Nintendo Switch controllers and best PC controllers.

So, while the Nova Lite sheds some advanced features in service to keeping its price point low, you can still expect to find a quality product here. That said, if you’d prefer a step up in quality and more robust features, we can also recommend the excellent GameSir T4 Kaleid ($41.99 / £41.99), though this is a wired-only option.

Specs

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

There’s admittedly not much to discuss in terms of features for the GameSir Nova Lite; it’s a bare bones product by design. But at this price point, that’s to be expected. And the Nova Lite still impresses with its overall design and, albeit limited, feature set.

Build quality, while certainly not as sturdy as the Nacon Revolution 5 Pro or the 8BitDo Ultimate, is nonetheless impressive given the bargain price. Here, you’re getting a solid build that doesn’t feel overly hollow, and it rests nicely in the hands thanks to effective textured grips on the rear of the gamepad.

Buttons and modules are pretty serviceable across the board, with some rather nice-feeling membrane face buttons and triggers. However, the bumpers and d-pad leave something to be desired, feeling slightly chunky and not particularly satisfying to press. As a result, it’s not recommended for games that make liberal use of the d-pad, such as the best fighting games or menu-heavy RPGs.

As we’ve come to expect from GameSir products, though, the Nova Lite’s thumbsticks greatly impress. These are Hall-sensing thumbsticks, which you’ll now find in many third-party gamepads as the design helps to greatly reduce the risk of stick drift. This greatly extends the lifespan of the controller, and they’re a welcome addition here, especially considering the Nova Lite’s low price tag.

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

While straightforward in terms of design, GameSir has still provided the Nova Lite with a few nifty tricks up its sleeve. Chief among these is the robust function button, which again is surprisingly versatile for its budget price tag. The button, situated between the d-pad and right analog stick, can accomplish several things through various button macros.

For instance, holding the function button while pressing up or down on the d-pad lets you adjust the controller’s vibration intensity. You can also adjust each thumbstick’s dead zone by holding the button, moving a stick, then releasing. Lastly, you can switch the Nova Lite between XInput, Nintendo Switch or Android compatibility by holding the function button and pressing the Start and Select buttons simultaneously – though do note that the controller needs to be connected via USB-C in order for this last one to work.

Otherwise you’re getting unremarkable yet solid performance from the GameSir Nova Lite. I found it to be an excellent fit on PC, playing a range of games in my Steam library including Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection and Dark Souls 3 during testing. It’s perfectly responsive via Bluetooth, too, and the controller felt at home with many of the best Nintendo Switch games, including Princess Peach: Showtime! and Super Mario Odyssey.

The only major drawback to note with the GameSir Nova Lite is its battery life. Via 2.4GHz, I managed just 10-11 hours of playtime from full charge, which lines up with GameSir’s own estimates. However, if you’d rather opt for Bluetooth connectivity via Nintendo Switch or mobile devices, you may be able to squeeze in up to 15 hours, which is slightly more palatable.

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the GameSir Nova Lite?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Want to learn about a broader range of top PC controllers? Consider the following options, which are some of our favorite alternative picks.

How I tested the GameSir Nova Lite

  • Tested for 15 hours 
  • Tested with PC and Nintendo Switch games
  • Compared with other recommended and affordable PC controllers

I tested the GameSir Nova Lite for roughly 15 hours, mixing wired and wireless play across Nintendo Switch and PC. I made sure to test the controller with a range of game genres, from fast-paced fighting games to slower, more deliberate platformers, puzzle games and RPGs.

I also compared the Nova Lite up to some of its budget-friendly peers, including the GameSir T4 Kaleid, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and 8BitDo Ultimate. While the Nova Lite didn’t quite stack up to any of these options in either features or battery life, it still provided adequate performance given its ultra-low price tag.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

Samsung 990 EVO review: great for the price, just don’t expect true PCIe 5.0 speeds
8:00 am | March 25, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Computing Components Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung 990 EVO: Two-minute review

The Samsung 990 EVO steps into the spotlight following the well-received Samsung 990 Pro, setting the stage for an SSD to carry forward the EVO series' legacy of performance and reliability. 

The 970 EVO Plus, this SSD's predecessor, was one of the best SSD picks when it was released a couple of years back, and it's still celebrated as one of the best cheap SSDs you can get even now, despite lacking the kinds of data rates you'll get with a modern PCIe 5.0. 

That leaves the 990 EVO with the ambitious task of following up a beloved budget model while introducing a hybrid PCIe 4.0/5.0 interface aimed at carving out a niche in an increasingly competitive SSD arena, and in that, it kind of succeeds - but also disappoints.

Right out the gate, the 990 EVO distinguishes itself with an interface capable of toggling between x4 PCIe 4.0 and x2 PCIe 5.0, which gives PC users a decent amount of wiggle room for their PCs if they've got a lot of drives plugged in. Coupled with a newly minted 5nm controller designed to enhance efficiency, the 990 EVO should be set up for success. 

The drive opts for a DRAM-less configuration, however, that somewhat tempers expectations with its more modest bandwidth, leading to speeds that clock below what the best PCIe 4.0 drives are capable of. 

Despite this, the single-sided 2TB variant I reviewed presents a versatile option for both PC enthusiasts and PlayStation 5 owners, a nod towards the growing standardization of high-capacity, single-sided drives. It lacks a heatsink, so PS5 users especially will want to look at an add-in heatsink just to be safe, but given the speeds involved, this drive doesn't really get hot enough that you'll need to be too concerned.

A Samsung 990 EVO slotted into a motherboard

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Targeted primarily at the laptops, OEM, and pre-built PC markets, the 990 EVO promises to deliver sufficient performance for gaming and everyday use, and positions itself as a compliment to the far more robust 990 Pro. It's a more cost-effective solution for gamers and others while still benefiting from Samsung's solid software support and reliability, and the option to toggle between PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 4.0 is a real value add for this drive.

Price-wise, the 990 EVO entered the market with a recommended retail price of $149.99 for the 1TB model and $239.99 for the 2TB variant, according to Samsung's website, but even there, these prices have been marked down quite a bit, and you can find the 1TB model for about $90/£100/AU$219, depending on where you look.

This pricing strategy places it in a good balance with its Pro sibling and other competitors, especially in a market where SSD prices are on the rise.

Performance specifications for the 990 EVO boast up to 5,000 MB/s and 4,200 MB/s in sequential reads and writes, respectively, alongside impressive random read and write IOPS. These figures are complemented by a standard five-year warranty and support for TCG Opal 2.0 encryption, making it an attractive option for security-conscious laptop users.

In terms of real-world performance, I more or less achieved these speeds across the board, and the drive's flexibility to operate across both PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 interfaces is a highlight. Despite the drive's low-ish 5,000MB/s advertised sequential read speed (which doesn't come close to maxing out the PCIe 4.0/5.0 lanes available to it), the drive does at least hit or exceed this claimed speed.

Despite these technical intricacies, the 990 EVO's broader challenge lies in its identity within the highly competitive SSD market. It seeks to offer a balance between performance, efficiency, and price - a task complicated by the competitive pricing and superior performance of PCIe 4.0 alternatives like the 990 Pro, PNY XLR8 CS3140, or Patriot Viper VP4300

All together then, the Samsung 990 EVO represents a solid addition to the SSD market. It doesn't bring you the kind of PCIe 5.0 speeds we see with the Crucial T705, but it's not meant for full-on performance. If you want that, you'll be better off investing in a 'real' PCIe 5.0 SSD, but for what it is, the 990 EVO hits the mark it needs to hit.

A Samsung 990 EVO with its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Samsung 990 EVO: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? MSRP starting at $149.99/£100/AU$219
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The Samsung 990 EVO starts at $149.99/£100/AU$219 for 1TB and maxes out at 2TB for $239.99/£169/AU$359, at least officially.

This doesn't include a heatsink, but given the rather modest speeds and energy usage of this SSD, your motherboard's heatsink will be more than enough since you really don't even need the extra heat spreader for this drive.

While the above are retail prices for this SSD (according to Samsung's website), even Samsung can be found offering these drives for up to 40% off, making this one of the best cheap SSD options out there if you're hoping to find a good balance between price and performance. 

Samsung 990 EVO: Specs

Should you buy the Samsung 990 EVO?

Buy the Samsung 990 EVO if...

You want good performance for the price
This isn't the fastest PCIe 5.0 SSD, but for the price, its performance is great.

You need a laptop SSD
The biggest selling point of this SSD is that it's geared more towards efficiency than high performance, so it'll be good for laptops where battery life is a concern. 

Don't buy it if...

You want PCIe 5.0 speeds
The speed of this drive is ok for what it is, but don't let the PCIe 5.0 interface fool you; you're not even going to get max PCIe 4.0 speeds with this drive.

You just need any ol' SSD
If you're just looking for an SSD for extra storage and you don't actually care how fast it is, save your money and buy a cheaper SSD, maybe even the Samsung 970 EVO Plus or similar PCIe 3.0 drives.

Samsung 990 EVO: Also consider

If my Samsung 990 EVO review has you looking for other options, here are two more SSDs to consider...

How I tested the Samsung 990 EVO

  • I spent about two weeks testing the Samsung 990 EVO
  • I used it as my main system drive on my workstation PC
  • I used my standard battery of benchmark tests along with content creation and general use

I spent about two weeks testing the Samsung 990 EVO, using it as my primary system drive on my workstation PC that I used for content creation, general work use, and some light gaming.

Primarily, though, this drive is best reserved for mobile devices like laptops and possibly PC gaming handhelds that can better benefit from its improved energy efficiency. 

I've been reviewing PC hardware for several years, in addition to earning my Master's Degree in Computer Science in 2024, so I know very well how a drive like this should perform with its given architecture and price point — knowledge I leverage to ensure you find the best SSD for your needs and budget, whether it's the Samsung 990 EVO or a competing drive.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Geekom A7 mini PC review
8:32 pm | March 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Geekom A7 mini PC: 30-second review

Specs

CPU: Ryzen™ 7000 (R9-7940HS & R7-7840HS)
Graphics: AMD Radeon™ Graphics 780M
RAM: Dual channel DDR5 5600MHz SODIMM, up to 64GB
Storage: 1 x M.2 2280 SSD Slot, support PCIe Gen4*4, up to 2TB, or SATAIII SSD, up to 1TB
Rear Ports:1 x Rear USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x Rear USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1 x USB 4 Gen3 Type-C, 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x RJ45 RTL8125BG-CG,
Front Ports: 1 x Front USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x Front USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x 3.5mm front stereo headset jack
Connectivity: M.2 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 
Audio: HDA CODEC
Camera: N/A
Size: 112.4 x 112.4 x 37 mm
OS installed: Microsoft Windows 11 (64-bit) 
Accessories: 19V power supply adapter (120W)

The Geekom A7 mini PC represents the upper echelon of Mini PCs, with its all-metal casing exuding a premium look and feel. Upon examination, it's clear this is not just another compact, space-saving device. 

Unlike many of the best mini PCs we've tested, it boasts a high-quality build complemented by a wide array of ports on the back, convenient quick-access ports on the front, and an SD card slot on the side, indicating Geekom's targeting of creatives, gamers, and high-end users.

The machine, preloaded with Windows 11 Pro, impresses with its quick boot time and effortless handling of demanding applications including some of the best video editing software and photo editing apps. Gaming performance is notable, though some adjustments to quality settings are necessary for smooth gameplay. For instance, Tekken 8 benchmarks at a score of 287 are suitable for mid-range settings, while Cyberpunk, when set to Medium graphics at 4K, is playable despite occasional glitches. However, lowering the resolution to 1080p while boosting graphics settings allows for smoother gameplay.

In everyday use, the A7 showcases its prowess by efficiently running all Office applications and breezing through tasks. Creative professionals will appreciate the ultra-fast USB Type-C ports for quick data transfer to and from large-capacity storage devices. Additionally, the dual HDMI ports facilitate an easy dual monitor setup, with the option for further expansion through USB ports.

Our review unit came equipped with 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD M.2 storage, serving as a solid base for various work types. With the option to expand the RAM up to 64GB, this compact machine demonstrates significant potential for serious users.

Geekom A7 mini PC: Price & availability

Geekom A7 mini PC on a desk in a home office

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Geekom A7 is readily available in several configurable options. The model reviewed features an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS with Radeon Graphics, while a slightly more affordable version comes with the Ryzen 7 7840HS, also equipped with AMD 780M graphics. Both variants can be customized with either 32GB or 64GB of RAM and a choice of 1TB or 2TB of SSD storage. These configurations can be purchased through Amazon.com, the Geekom website, and numerous other retailers.

  • Score: 4/5

Geekom A7 mini PC: Design & build

Geekom Mini PC A7

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The first thing you notice about the A7's build quality is its premium metal casing, contrasted with a standard plastic base. This design not only creates a strong and durable machine suitable for both home and workshop use but also makes it conveniently portable for those needing to transport their computer between home and work without opting for a laptop.

A notable feature of the design is the abundance of ports on the back, facilitating easy connections to a wide array of devices via HDMI, USB Type-A and C, along with a direct network connection. This feature is particularly beneficial for creative users like photographers and videographers, thanks to the built-in SD card reader on the side for quick downloading of image and video files post-shoot.

The ample ports and connections also mean the system can be attached to numerous accessories without overloading it or draining its power, which is crucial for those requiring fast transfers for large storage and control desks.

While the mini PC comes with a range of hardware options for RAM and SSD at the time of purchase, both can be upgraded as budget allows. Access to the hardware is straightforward, requiring the removal of the small rubber feet and unscrewing four small screws to detach the plastic base. Beneath this, a metal plate adds an extra layer of protection to the electronics and assists with cooling. This plate, held in place by another four screws, can be removed to access the SSD and RAM directly.

A large fan is situated at the top of the machine, integral to the cooling system that allows the powerful CPU and GPU to maintain smooth operation. Similar to other high-performance mini PCs recently observed, this fan is designed to be large yet run quietly, ensuring it does not distract from multimedia activities, gaming, or work conducted on the machine.

  • Design: 5/5

Geekom A7 mini PC: Features

Geekom Mini PC A7

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Geekom A7 ushers in a new era of Mini PCs, elevating performance and demonstrating that this compact form factor is more than just a space-saving solution. It houses powerful Ryzen processors and offers a wide range of connectivity options, catering to professionals, creators, and everyday users.

Key features include the Ryzen 7000 Series CPU, known for its exceptional performance with a thermal design power (TDP) of up to 45W. This balance between performance and power consumption means users relying on intensive applications for video editing, graphic design, or software development will find the processing power they need for complex tasks.

Complementing the CPU is the AMD Radeon Graphics 780M, a mobile GPU with an impressive track record. While it may not match the power of a dedicated external GPU, it provides a balanced solution for content creators and casual gamers who need competent graphics performance for video editing, graphic design, and gaming.

This mini PC supports high-speed DDR5 memory in a dual-channel DDR5 5600MHz SODIMM configuration, expandable up to 64GB, ensuring smooth multitasking across applications. It also offers versatile storage options, supporting an M.2 2280 SSD for PCIe Gen4*4 (up to 2TB) or a more economical SATAIII SSD (up to 1TB), catering to the needs of creatives and gamers with faster transfer speeds, as well as general users.

A significant feature appealing to professional users is the extensive array of I/O ports, including USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A/C, HDMI 2.0, and more. Alongside Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 support, it ensures versatile connectivity. Its compact size (112.4 x 112.4 x 37 mm) and lightweight (420g) make it ideal for space-constrained environments, offering a discreet, minimalist design that doesn't stand out, whether in homes or workshops. Its durable metal case and small footprint also facilitate easy wall mounting or placement away from potential hazards.

Despite its compact size, which could pose challenges for heat management, the A7 is equipped with the Geekom 4.0 cooling system, featuring a large top-mounted fan and side venting to ensure the system remains cool. The necessity of an external power adapter supporting a 120W power draw facilitates higher processing performance, compensating for the lack of USB-C power delivery. 

The Geekom mini PC is preinstalled with Windows 11 Pro and ready to go after the usual initial setup process. 

  • Features: 4.5/5

Geekom A7 mini PC: Performance

Geekom Mini PC A7

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
Benchmarks

Crystal Disk Read: 4908.63MB/s
Crystal Disk Write:
 4720.80MB/s
GeekBench CPU Single: 2674
GeekBench CPU Multi:
 13296
GeekBench Compute: 33438
PC Mark:
 7289
CineBench CPU Multi: 19835
CineBench CPU Single:
 1802
Fire Strike Overall: 7875
Fire Strike Graphics:
 8512
Fire Strike Physics: 27471
Fire Strike Combined: 2994
Time Spy Overall:
 3244
Time Spy Graphics: 2886
Time Spy CPU:
 10925
Wild Life: 16681
Windows Experience: 8.2

The A7 demonstrates formidable performance across a diverse range of applications, evidenced by its impressive test scores. For creative tasks, such as working in Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro, its GeekBench Multi score of 13,296 and a CineBench CPU Multi score of 19,835 indicate its capability to manage complex, CPU-demanding tasks. Practically, this translates to smooth and responsive performance when editing high-resolution images from the Canon EOS R5 in Photoshop or handling 4K video editing in Premiere Pro, facilitated by high-speed DDR5 RAM for seamless layer manipulation and real-time footage preview.

In DaVinci Resolve, the GeekBench Compute score of 33,438 and Fire Strike Graphics score of 8,512 showcase the mini PC's proficiency in colour grading and 4K video rendering—a testament to its sufficient GPU power for demanding video editing tasks, ensuring fine 4K video editing with smooth playback and quick render times. If you've been on the look-out for a compact alternative to the best video editing PCs or even the best video editing laptops, this could be the mini PC for you. 

In fact, content creation across the board is good. The A7 comfortably handles Adobe Audition performance for track mixing and effect applications. Its HDA CODEC ensures high-quality audio output, indicating its well-rounded capabilities in handling audio editing tasks without hitches.

Although not primarily a gaming rig, the A7's performance in creative applications hinted at respectable gaming capabilities. With a Time Spy Graphics score of 2,886, it supports casual to moderate gaming experiences. Games such as "Tekken 8" and "Cyberpunk" can be played in mid-range settings, requiring adjustments for smooth gameplay at higher resolutions.

The A7 excels in everyday productivity tasks as well, including Microsoft Office applications. A PC Mark score of 7,289 signifies that it can effortlessly manage word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and other office-related tasks, corroborated by actual use. The fast SSD, with Crystal Disk Read and Write speeds of 4908.63MB/s and 4720.80MB/s, respectively, ensures rapid application launches and almost instantaneous file access, enhancing efficiency, especially when transferring image and video files via the SD card slot. This combination of high-speed memory, robust processing power, and fast storage highlights the mini PC as a powerful, versatile computer capable of meeting a wide array of user needs, from creative to everyday productivity and casual gaming.

  • Performance: 4/5

Should you buy the Geekom A7 mini PC?

The A7 from Geekom is ideal for creatives, professionals, and users seeking a compact, powerful computer. Its robust processing and graphics capabilities make it perfect for demanding tasks like video editing, graphic design, and multitasking with ease. Casual gamers and those valuing a space-saving design without sacrificing performance will also find it appealing. 

However, hardcore gamers and users requiring the utmost in graphical performance may not find it meets their needs due to its limitations compared to dedicated gaming PCs. Additionally, those on a tight budget might consider the price point and explore more cost-effective options.

Value: Solid performance at a reasonable price. 4/5
Design: Compact, efficient, unobtrusive design. 5/5
Features: Versatile, with comprehensive connectivity and expansion options. 4.5/5
Performance: Strong in multitasking, moderate in gaming. 4/5
Total: Well-rounded, efficient for professionals and casual users. 4/5

Geekom Mini PC A7

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...


We've tested the best laptops for photo editing - and here's the ones we rate

LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB review: a balance of price and performance that can’t be beat
10:22 pm | March 4, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Monitors Peripherals & Accessories | Tags: , | Comments: Off

LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB: Two-minute review

The LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB is a special monitor, to say the least, and is effectively a new benchmark for the best ultrawide monitors thanks to its phenomenal balance of price, performance, and features. 

The 45GR75DCB stretches its ultrawide display up from the usual 3,840 x 1,440p resolution up to 5,120 x 1,440p (32:9, rather than the more typical 21:9), and spreads that across just under 45 inches (44.5 to be precise) of display running up to 200Hz. 

Then there are various features ranging from KVM capabilities for use across various devices, AMD Freesync Premium Pro compatibility, and more. Most importantly, the 45GR75DCB lacks the incredibly high $2,000 launch price tag of the LG UltraGear 38GN950, instead coming in at $799. This makes the 45GR75DCB one of the best gaming monitors currently available in its class. 

An LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Ural Garrett)

The LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB has a simple set-up out of the box. Three parts need to be connected including the base, stand, and display itself. The base has an easy screw at its bottom that connects to the neck. 

Once that’s done, the neck connects to four slots on the display’s back. Weight distribution feels pretty even during setup so putting all the parts of the 45GR75DCB together wasn’t difficult. Power is supplied by a slightly enlarged brick that connects to a jack in the rear near a larger collection of ports.

An LG UltraGear 45GR75C on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Ural Garrett)

The ports sit on the right side of the back panel directly next to the display neck. In this section are two HDMI ports alongside a singular DisplayPort, USB-C port, USB-B, and two USB-A ports for KVM capabilities.

An LG UltraGear 45GR75C on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Ural Garrett)

At the panel bottom near the power button/menu stick is a 3.5mm audio jack that also features DTS Headphone:X for virtual surround sound. It’s incredibly easy to navigate system menus with the stick as the user interface is pretty snappy as well. Unfortunately, there aren’t any internal speakers so headphones or external speakers are going to be mandatory.

When it comes to aesthetics, it won’t win any awards for beauty as it's more about function over form. For a small bit of oomph, there is an UltraGear logo on the back panel and that’s about it. The bezels are thin enough not to interfere with display real estate due to its 3-sided virtually borderless design. 

Thankfully, the feet of the base don’t spread out wide enough to be a nuisance, which is great. The 45GR75DCB also doesn’t have any of the customizable lighting of the 38GN950 but that’s fine, and some might even see that as a positive. Though it’s impossible to rotate the 45GR75DCB vertically to get into portrait mode, there are enough height, tilt, and swivel adjustment ranges for a comfortable setup. 

There are plenty of features that come packed in the LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB that add to various levels of functionality from creative work to pure gaming applications. The USB-C port allows for various functions including video and data transfer alongside power delivery up to 90W. 

There also are a slew of various picture-by-picture and picture-in-picture modes as well as the splitting the monitor between two 2560 X 1440p displays. Multitasking is taken even further through KVM capabilities which allows a single mouse and keyboard input over two devices. This is perfect for gamers who want to stream content through one monitor and set of inputs. 

An LG UltraGear 45GR75C on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Ural Garrett)

When it comes to more image quality-focused features, the 45GR75DCB has a 1500R curve and 178° viewing angle. The 44.5-inch VA panel produces true-to-life images and videos, boasting 1.07 billion colors and VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification for high-dynamic range, encompassing 95% of the DCI-P3 gamut. Additionally, it offers a 3000:1 contrast ratio and a brightness of 400 nits among its standout features.

Real-time frames per second data can be splashed across all four corners of the display through an FPS Counter. Though the accuracy of the counter is a bit wonky during our test, it’s a great resource to keep up with fps data without using a third-party app that could take away system resources. Shooter fans looking to become as accurate as possible have several choices of a center-display crosshair for improving precision and accuracy. Though the 45GR75DCB doesn’t have external speakers, having DTS Headphone:X certification for virtual surround sound is a phenomenal plug-in-play feature. 

An LG UltraGear 45GR75C on a desk

(Image credit: Future / Ural Garrett)

General gaming performance on the LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB is pretty fantastic despite the wide visual real-estate. High frame rate games like Doom Eternal, Fortnite, and Counter Strike 2 definitely make the most of the blistering fast 200Hz display. Input lag while playing those games was non-existent thanks to its 1ms (GTG) response time, as well. Moreover, its compatibility with multiple variable refresh rate standards, including AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, allows users to seamlessly apply the suitable variable refresh rate function to any PC or console. 

Fans of games including Forza Motorsport, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and recent PlayStation ports of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered are going to be in for a treat. They not only perform well but feature ultrawide support for incredibly immersive gameplay. Just be sure that you have the best gaming PC you can get because it'll need to be powerful enough to get the most out of the ultrawide resolution and refresh rate.

When it comes to general image quality, the UltraGear 45GR75DCB is respectable but is held back by its 400 nits of brightness alongside the anti-glare screen, which ultimately produces colors that aren’t as vibrant or crisp as they could be. This is more noticeable when HDR is turned on as colors feel even more flat and drab.

This means that the ultrawide desktop should be avoided by content curators like photographers or colorists. While using Photoshop, it was an issue getting internal monitor settings to look right. For optimal image quality, it’s best to leave HDR alone unless one wants to do a lot of tinkering. Like many premium gaming monitors, there are several genre-specific color settings for first-person shooters, racing, and the like. However, they don’t do much to help improve image quality. 

Overall, though, the LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB is one of the best gaming monitor options for those who want the real estate of an ultrawide monitor but aren't looking to spend a fortune to get one. When it comes to functionality and performance, you'd be hard-pressed to find better, just don’t expect a premium look for overall image quality.

LG UltraGear 45GR75C: Price and availability

The LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB is available now in the US for $799.99 and in the UK for 979.94, though there isn’t a release date for the UK or Australia right now. For the size available, this pits it against larger ultrawide screens like the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 or Corsair Xeneon Flex 45WQHD240 but significantly cheaper.

Though the UltraGear 45GR75DCB lacks a lot of the image quality of those other ultrawide gaming displays, it nearly matches them with its functionality and performance.

Should you buy the The LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB?

Buy the LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB if...

Don't buy it if...

You want better overall image quality
Colors lack boldness and contrast compared to other ultrawide monitors in its tier. Though it’s good enough for gaming, creatives may have some issues when it comes to color correcting.

You don’t have a powerful PC
Gamers who already have trouble running games like Fortnite and Call of Duty Warzone at high frame rates on their rig, let alone higher fidelity games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Alan Wake 2, won't be able to take full advantage of this display.

The LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB: Also consider

If my LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB review has you considering other options, here are two more monitors to consider. 

How I tested the LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB

  •  We tested the LG UltraGear 45GR75C for about a little over a week 
  •  We used it for gaming, creative work and general computing tasks 
  •  We used various games alongside Adobe Suite software 

The LG UltraGear 45GR75DCB was made for high performance gaming so a majority of the time was spent playing various titles. To test the performance prowess of the monitor, I played games like Counter Strike 2, Fortnite, and Doom Eternal to test how far refresh rates could be pushed. When it comes to games displaying high levels of visual fidelity, I played Alan Wake II, Cyberpunk 2077, and Forza Motorsport

I used Adobe Suite software including Photoshop and Premiere Pro to test its color accuracy and image quality. To test video capabilities, various YouTube videos were played across a range of image qualities as well. 

I’ve spent the past several years covering monitors alongside other PC components for Techradar. Outside of gaming, I’ve been proficient in Adobe Suite for over a decade as well. 

First reviewed March 2024

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